Key West

Mona’s second sunrise

 

It was October, 11th, 2012, early in the morning and we were headed east towards Chattanooga, Tennessee.  All of a sudden bright light appeared on the tree line ahead of us.  “OMG, what is it?!?” gasped Mona.  To which I calmly replied, “It’s called a sunrise.”

Yep, Mona was up early and that could only mean one thing: We’re traveling again! It was our intent to drive from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to Homestead, Florida in one day.  It was a challenging proposition, especially considering all the construction near Marietta, Georgia.  We had to do several reroutes and a took a couple of breaks here and there, but we made it in just over 15 hours.  Not a drive we’d like to do every day, but we got a huge head start on our drive to Key West.

Not many of these in Decatur!

Incredibly, Mona saw her second sunset of 2012 the very next day!  In fact, she thinks that covers 2011 as well.  She saw this one from Key Largo as we began the final trek into Key West. And it is indeed a trek.  It takes at least ten hours to traverse Florida, top to bottom, and still another three to make it to Key West.  You have to be committed to get here…or get committed after getting here.

Popular House

We are staying in the Popular House B&B, on William Street, just three blocks off Duval and six blocks from the daily (?) sunset party.  This Victorian home was built in 1898 by Bahamian shipbuilders and is listed in the National Historic Register.  It has eight guest rooms, no TVs, but it does have keys for the rooms! The rooms have exposed Dade County pine walls and have lots of local art as decoration.  We have our own veranda and can’t wait to enjoy tonight’s stars out there with a glass of wine.

We starting exploring Key West by heading for a restaurant….as usual, Mona was hungry.  We stopped at the Turtle Kraal at the marina and had some great conch fritters, peel-n-eat shrimp and grilled oysters.

We then walked around the wharf, which was “fun” as Mona kept getting distracted by shops, shrimp and shirtless sailors… There’s no guardrail, so it was a bit challenging keeping her from falling off the dock, but we made it through and headed for Duval Street.

Chickens on Duval

 

How to describe Duval Street…hmmmm….kind of like Bourbon Street, but weirder.  Lots of tourists of course, but also lots of unique people in all kinds of “costumes” with dogs, bikes, and…chickens.  Yep, chickens.

We checked out several places that we plan to visit later and then visited Ernest Hemingway’s home.  This was a great little tour, learning lots of tidbits about Hemingway, his life, his loves, his cats.  I think I’ve convinced Mona to let me emulate some of Hemingway’s characteristics and behaviors so I can get my first book finished.  (We haven’t finished negotiating as to exactly which characteristics and behaviors.)

Urinal Water Feature
Need one in our garden?

Ernest was a memorable character…very passionate about everything he did, including his romances as well as his breakups.  Hemingway’s last divorce was pretty tumultuous, to say the least.  One night he got the urinal from his favorite bar and threw it into his ex-wife’s pool.  She was upset, but got the last word on him by converting the urinal to a water fountain.

Afterwards, we wandered back down Duval Street and stopped by Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.  There,  Mona found her second favorite rita….after Blue Coyote, but tied with Pure Taqueria in Woodstock, Georgia.  We listened to some great music there and then finally checked into our B&B.

Did I tell you about parking in Key West?  The old-town part of the island is jammed with homes, inns and shops.  There is no room for parking lots/parking garages.  You have to drive around, block after block, trying to avoid hitting bicycles, pedestrians, drunken tourist and chickens…hoping to find an unrestricted spot.  Impossible.

Mona took the first fifteen minutes with no luck.  I took the second shift and finally found a place about five blocks away…and considered myself fortunate.  Well, at least I hope I’m fortunate.  Will find out for sure when we try to retrieve the car….assuming we can find it again!

About six o’clock we headed for Mallory Square, on the western point of Key West.  That’s where everyone gathers every night to watch the sunset.

It’s like a carnival, with street performers, food booths (including conch fritters, of course) and lots and lots of people.  Sailboats pass by, with onboard partygoers singing and dancing…..not to mention the sails making for great photos against the setting sun.  We found a spot to sit and enjoyed the fun.  A little local boy was there with his pet spider and we had a lot of fun talking to him and his parents.  He reminded us of our grandson Tyler.

Finally, at 7:12 it was time for the big moment.  The sun did not disappoint us and we got to watch an incredible sunset.  No green flash tonight, but there’s always tomorrow night!

 

Afterwards, it was time to do a little Key West Crawlin’.  We stopped first at Captain Tony’s.  This is in the actual building that Hemingway used to hang out in, but back then it was Sloppy Joe’s.  (This is where he got the infamous urinal from.)  Cool place with live music, but the crawl calls!

Around the corner is Sloppy Joe’s…the favorite hangout of Hemingway.  (Albeit moved a bit.)  Live music that we couldn’t understand and packed, packed, packed with tourists. Crawlin’ on.

Mona after the crawl.  Not really, it’s one of the 45
six-toed cats at Hemingway’s home.

Barbossa’s next…or was it Conch Republic, no it was the Rum Barrel…or maybe….hmmmm…..for some reason the names are a bit blurry.  Doesn’t matter…we stopped here and there for a bit of music, an update on the Cards game, or just to relax.  We finally crawled back to our hotel to crash…just like the Cards.  No, wait a minute…..I vaguely remember something about “down to their last out” and….gotta go check out the score!

 
 

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